June 29, 2015
New evidence has been published that claims workplaces that value employees’ safety and wellbeing as much as productivity yield the greatest rewards. A study from Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health claims that when the organisation promotes productivity and wellbeing equally to workers, employees report having less work-related musculoskeletal pain. However, when workers perceived an emphasis on either performance or wellbeing unequally, regardless of which concept was felt to be more important, workers reported greater levels of musculoskeletal pain. The trend of emphasising workplace wellness and valuing employee health and wellbeing has been a focus in many organisations in recent years. This study adds new evidence to the argument that using principles such as ergonomics to increase wellbeing in the workplace benefits not only the employee, but the business too.
In Ergonomics Climate Assessment: A measure of operational performance and employee well-being, which was published in Applied Ergonomics the researchers describe a new tool they developed called an Ergonomics Climate Assessment, which measures employee perception of their workplace’s emphasis on the design and modification of work to maximize both employee performance and wellbeing.
The study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health evaluated the Ergonomics Climate Assessment at a large manufacturing facility. The researchers used data from focus groups of office and production employees and a review of ergonomic best practices to determine four common factors central to ergonomic climate: management commitment, employee involvement, job hazard analysis, and training and knowledge. After an initial pilot study with 130 employees, they identified 40 questions that best describe an organization’s ergonomics climate.
The researchers studied the tool’s relationship to employees’ self-reported work-related musculoskeletal pain with 706 employees over a period of two years.
“Our study demonstrates that traditional arguments against workplace health and safety policies and practices just aren’t true,” said Krista Hoffmeister, a co-author, CSU alumna and research analyst with Sentis. “While employee safety and wellbeing are often seen as an obstacle to increases in productivity, this study demonstrates the importance of aligning these values for a maximum result.”
“On a practical level, the Ergonomics Climate Assessment can be used by businesses to assess their values for productivity and well-being, identify areas for improvement, and it acts as a benchmark for improvement goals,” Hoffmeister said.